How to Stay Sane During Unemployment

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If you’ve experienced a job loss, you might have been excited at first to have some time off from the daily grind. But, when the newness wears off, you realize that the effort of finding a new job takes some time. Finding your dream job, or even just your next job, can take more time than you bargained for. And while many well-meaning people will say that “finding a job is a full-time job”, there are only so many new jobs posted every day. There are only so many job applications you can submit each day. Only so many prospective leads you can chase in a week. The more experience you have in your field, the more selective you become with your search. You can’t just sit and stare at your computer all day, waiting for an email from a recruiter. You can’t just wait all day for your cell phone to ring with a phone call from your favorite company. That kind of waiting can be monotonous and never-ending.

During times of unemployment, there are some strategies you can use to help you stay patient. While some of these won’t apply to you, hopefully you will find at least one thing that may work for your unemployment situation. In this economy, it isn’t uncommon for people to lose a job through no fault of their own. So, even if you are gainfully employed today, it isn’t a bad idea to have a back-up plan too.

Going through a job loss can be a blessing in disguise for some people, enabling them to take on things they never otherwise would have done. But many others grieve it as a loss of finances, identity, and the chance to socialize with work friends. Here are some things that might help you in your unemployment, regardless of your position.

Temping

Signing up through a temp service could help you be contacted for opportunities or interviews. Temp agencies are middlemen that are paid for their ability to recruit new people. The benefit of this is that some agencies will allow you to take tests for various skills and see how you place. You can pick up assignments, and if you don’t care for the work, you can end the assignment without burning bridges. Because you’re working for the agency, your payment is from the agency, not the company where you’re working. These agencies often offer short-term assignments to fill the needs left by employees out on vacation or medical leave, so if you only need a week or a month of work, that could be an opportunity. It can also allow you to try a different type of work to see if you like it. If you’ve always done office work and you’d like to try manual labor (or vice versa), you can. If you don’t like it, nothing lost.

Seasonal Jobs

With Christmas coming, some stores will hire help just for the holidays. In the spring, other companies will need help just for tax season. In the summer, still others will need help due to the outdoor nature of their services. Seasonal jobs can be a great way to make some extra money without making a long-term commitment. These gigs are understood to be short-term and for people that just want to make a few extra bucks. Seasonal jobs have not only given me extra money but fun times, great experiences, and even good references for the skills I’ve been able to demonstrate on the job. Your mileage may vary depending on the industry you’re working in and the gig you land.

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Volunteering

If you’re so short on money you can barely afford to put gas in your car, this one won’t apply to you, but if you have enough savings, you may want to consider volunteering during unemployment. Experiencing a job loss can shake up your sense of identity if you tie your worth to what you do. Volunteering can provide you with a positive answer if you’re feeling a major confusion or distress around the question of “What am I going to do this week?” You are more than what you did or do for a living. We all have to remind ourselves that our dignity and our worth do not come from our occupations (or lack thereof). But if you need a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning, think about volunteering for a cause that you think is important. It could give you a sense of purpose, importance, and accomplishment. And, when you land your next interview, it can also give you something interesting to say when you’re asked what you’ve been doing since your last job ended.

Start a Side Hustle

If you’re still waiting on someone to hire you, why not hire yourself? I love the TV show Flea Market Flip. Contestants shop flea markets and pick up items that might otherwise be mistaken for trash. They take their own inspiration, work on the items, and add some updates to these items, to flip the items for a profit. The improvement is often stunning. So, if you have the same kind of ingenuity, why not create your own opportunity for yourself? You may not be crafty or good with a hammer, but perhaps you can create your own opportunity to make money while you’re waiting on a 9-5 gig.

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Reasons to Volunteer When You Have No Job by Erin Shelby

The statistics for America’s college class of 2012 are tragic. According to the Huffington Post, as of February 2013, 50 percent of graduates have no job or are underemployed in jobs that do not fully use their skills – jobs that do not require a college degree and pay a low wage. In such circumstances, graduates are barely making ends meet. Why then are job-seekers from this class and others being encouraged to volunteer their time? Here are five reasons to volunteer while awaiting the ideal opportunity.

Fresh Skills
As a volunteer, you may be cast in a role that you feel is below you or not valuable. You might be asked to make coffee or take out the trash. However, this is a chance to prove that you can be flexible. You could be entrusted with bigger responsibilities or confidential information and have the chance to learn something that would cost money to learn in a classroom setting, such as a new software application. Volunteering can keep your skills sharp or help you build new skills.

Understanding of a Company’s Culture
You can’t truly know what it’s like to work for a company until you’re hired there. You can interview and ask intelligent questions, but until you’re part of the team, there’s a lot to learn. What better way to really see if it’s worth your time than to volunteer first? This will give you an insider’s view and help you prepare for any interviews there. Almost all interviewers will ask what you know about their organization, and if you’ve volunteered there, you’ll have a distinct advantage over other applicants.

A Distraction from Unemployment
Being unemployed causes stress that can radiate through job interviews. Self-confidence can deteriorate and a prospective employer won’t see the candidate at his or her best. Being engaged in volunteer work provides a distraction from stress by providing a reminder that unemployment or underemployment is a temporary situation and it gives the job seeker an avenue to contribute his or her talents and experience. It can also provide connections to others and a sense of belonging to a workplace or community.

Because College is No Longer Impressive
The New York Times recently reported that in many workplaces, the minimum educational requirement used to be a high school diploma, but is now a college degree. Because so many applicants are applying for positions such as a paralegal or receptionist, a person can no longer apply without a college degree, which means that having a college degree isn’t as impressive any more. How then, can anyone stand out? By taking on a volunteer experience.

Because the Old Saying Goes…
You’ve heard it a thousand times. In any job market, the person who gets the job usually knows someone already working for the organization. For many people, networking isn’t easy. Volunteering is a sincere way of networking that proves what a dedicated professional you are.

How to Become a Volunteer: Next Steps
If you’d like to volunteer, identify organizations you’d like to assist or a cause you believe in. Love animals? Check out the Humane Society. Want to help others deal with natural disasters? Investigate the American Red Cross. Have a soft spot for kids? Any school could use volunteers. Also consider how your degree uniquely qualifies you to serve an organization.